NowComment
2-Pane Combined
Comments:
Full Summaries Sorted

The World Needs the US to Lead on Genetic Engineering

0 General Document comments
0 Sentence and Paragraph comments
0 Image and Video comments


Human-genetic engineering has gone from science fiction to science fact — at least, if you believe the reports coming out of China. A team at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, led by researcher He Jiankui, said it had altered the genes of twin girls while in the womb, making them more resistant to AIDS. Importantly, the scientists allegedly used Crispr, the new technique that many believe will make genetic engineering cheap and widespread.

New Conversation
Paragraph 1 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 1, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Before rushing to declare that the world has changed, of course, the work must be verified. Chinese academia is notorious for widespread fraud, and even in far more reputable countries, big claims of biotech breakthroughs have been fabricated in the past. The Chinese government is investigating whether He’s innovation — which was announced on YouTube instead of published in a scientific journal — is real.

New Conversation
Paragraph 2 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 2 0
profile_photo
Dec 17
Ruby Phillips (Dec 17 2018 1:12PM) : the claims of it working could be fake
New Conversation
Paragraph 2, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But even in the event that these genetically engineered superbabies turn out to be a hoax, it seems highly likely that real Crispr kids are not far behind. That means policy makers need to be thinking about how to deal with this revolutionary new technology — not just the ethics, but also the economics.

New Conversation
Paragraph 3 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 3, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Ethically, many will likely recoil from the idea of editing kids to make them healthier — not to mention stronger, smarter or otherwise more capable. Even if genetic engineering is only used to cure or prevent disease, a substantial minority of Americans — probably driven by religious concerns — is opposed to the idea. When it comes to less life-threatening cases, like making a person smarter, a large majority disapprove:

New Conversation
Paragraph 4 0
profile_photo
Dec 17
Ruby Phillips (Dec 17 2018 1:15PM) : positive
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 4, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Share of Americans who disapprove of uses for genetic engineering

New Conversation
Paragraph 5 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 5, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Source: Pew Research Center

New Conversation
Paragraph 6 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 6, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Those opinions might change over time. If people’s intelligence really could be improved safely and reliably, without serious side effects, it would give people a helpful productivity boost. And if workers in China or other countries began boosting their productivity levels this way — as it seems certain they would — it would be hard for Americans to compete unless they followed suit.

New Conversation
Paragraph 7 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 7, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

But those fearful of a future where everyone is forced to engineer their kids to be geniuses in order to keep up with the Chinese should calm down, because intelligence enhancement really is likely to remain science fiction for quite a while. There are probably thousands of genes that each exert a minuscule influence on cognitive ability, and it’s vanishingly unlikely that humans could alter that many of their genes without severe and undesirable side effects.

New Conversation
Paragraph 8 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 8, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

My guess is that reductions in the genetic predilection for anxiety and depression will be a much more feasible productivity-booster, in addition to alleviating vast amounts of human suffering. Reducing mental illnesses like schizophrenia may also be possible. Antidepressant-, anti-anxiety- and antipsychotic-drug use is already widespread, so it seems reasonably possible that genetics will eventually be accepted as an additional treatment. If so, national output and well-being will both improve.

New Conversation
Paragraph 9 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 9, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

There’s another reason for the U.S. not to get left behind in genetic engineering — it has the potential to be a huge consumer market. Besides curing diseases and improving mental health and productivity, genetic engineering probably will be used for cosmetic purposes. Some fraction of people around the world will want to give their kids a couple extra inches of height, a bit of extra strength or a different hair color to gain an edge in the job market, the dating market or just for pure aesthetics.

New Conversation
Paragraph 10 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 10, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Whichever companies end up providing these services to people who want them — as well as ancillary services such as consulting, screening and monitoring — will make huge amounts of money. The patents on various cutting-edge techniques will be worth many billions of dollars. If the U.S. shies away from developing genetic-engineering technology, these riches will flow to China, or to whatever other countries seize the technological edge.

New Conversation
Paragraph 11 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 11, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

That’s why, despite all the ethical concerns, it’s important for the U.S. government to push ahead with research on human-genetic engineering. China’s government, with its considerable disregard for safety, privacy and ethics, is likely to make rapid initial advances, but the U.S. can still win the race in the long run. If American genetic-engineering research proceeds with strict safety and privacy controls, and with vigorous and open debate about the ethics of various genetic technologies, it’s likely that American companies will be the ones to eventually bring safe, reliable products to market.

New Conversation
Paragraph 12 0
profile_photo
Dec 17
Ruby Phillips (Dec 17 2018 1:18PM) : This is negative to my idea but positive in terms of the us
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 12, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Dystopian outcomes are also less likely with the U.S. at the helm. China, which even now is ramping up its human-rights violations and its all-encompassing surveillance state, may decide to try to genetically re-engineer its population for purposes of social control. That is a terrifying prospect, and even more terrifying if other countries decide they need to follow suit. But the U.S. can show the world alternative uses for genetic modification, based on freedom, justice, and improved health and happiness.

New Conversation
Paragraph 13 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 3 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 13, Sentence 4 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

Like it or not, genetic-engineering technology is out of the bag. The human race is set to change, and it’s up to the free world to make sure it manages it in a healthy rather than a horrifying way.

New Conversation
Paragraph 14 0
No paragraph-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 1 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.
New Conversation
Paragraph 14, Sentence 2 0
No sentence-level conversations. Start one.

DMU Timestamp: November 09, 2018 23:10

General Document Comments 0
Start a new Document-level conversation

Image
0 comments, 0 areas
add area
add comment
change display
Video
add comment

Quickstart: Commenting and Sharing

How to Comment
  • Click icons on the left to see existing comments.
  • Desktop/Laptop: double-click any text, highlight a section of an image, or add a comment while a video is playing to start a new conversation.
    Tablet/Phone: single click then click on the "Start One" link (look right or below).
  • Click "Reply" on a comment to join the conversation.
How to Share Documents
  1. "Upload" a new document.
  2. "Invite" others to it.

Logging in, please wait... Blue_on_grey_spinner